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Shelby Township

Keeping chickens: Township calls fowl

November 13, 2013

» click to enlarge «
Kathy Frances holds up one of her eight hens. The township notified her to get rid of her chickens because of its chicken ordinance, but she does not want to let them go.

SHELBY TOWNSHIP — Recently, a new crop of ordinance violations and misunderstandings has resurfaced in Shelby Township regarding owning chickens for fresh eggs.

“We had one issue on Dequindre, but lately we’ve had more cases for some reason,” said township attorney Rob Huth. “We typically try to work something out with the homeowners. Mostly, things get resolved; we just haven’t gotten to that point yet.”

Kathy Frances, who keeps eight birds in a coop for fresh eggs at her residence located near 21 Mile Road and Van Dyke Avenue, said her issue began in July of this year.

“The first complaint I received was in July. Then they sent me out a notice not too long ago on Oct. 16. I tried to get back ahold with the township, but nobody has returned my call,” Frances said. “I don’t want to feel like a criminal because I want to have fresh eggs.”

Frances said that she still has her chickens and that the issue has not yet been resolved.

“I really don’t want to get rid of them,” she said.

She said that her chickens provide her with anywhere from three-five eggs a day and that she sells some of them, mainly to her mother, which helps her cover the low cost of feed.

The township became alerted to the chickens in Frances’ yard when a neighbor complained that they were hopping the fence and she was unable to catch them in the morning, but now that she has built a coop for them and clipped their wings, they stay in the coop unless she lets them out, she said.

During this time of year, Frances said, she rarely lets the chickens roam around her yard unless she is there supervising them because of the presence of hawks and other predators.

She said she thought keeping chickens was allowed, since a family on 22 Mile Road, between Ryan and Shelby roads, kept chickens that roamed around their property. She said another woman who lives on Dequindre Road, south of 25 Mile Road, kept her chickens because she claimed farming rights to them.

Huth said that the chickens kept at the residence on Dequindre Road have been upheld as a legal pursuant to the Michigan Right to Farm Act, and their owner demonstrated that she followed all of the rules with a prospective farm, taking care of chickens and selling eggs.

However, he said that the family who lives on 22 Mile Road has since had to get rid of their chickens.

Huth said that the chicken issues are generally resolved as a neighbor dispute and that the township sits in as a referee to help find a solution all can live with.

“I think the current state of the ordinance should be examined, with respect to the chickens,” he said. “I would expect there’ll be some activity in 2014.”

He added that the township might look into enhancing its guidelines to clear up any confusion or misunderstandings pertaining to keeping chickens.

About the author

Staff Writer Sarah Wojcik covers Shelby Township and Utica for the Shelby-Utica News. Sarah has worked for C & G Newspapers since 2013 and attended Oakland University. She won a first place 2013 Excellence in Journalism award for open government reporting and a second place 2014 Excellence in Journalism award for a series of explanatory stories from the Detroit chapter of the Society of Professional Journalists.

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